When You’re Licked, You’re Licked: Ice Cream Truck Driver Faces Tough Oregon DUI Laws

ice-cream-truck-duiSome people drive to and from work, and some drive for their work. Neither should be driving while impaired, but the law has special requirements for commercial drivers.

Police in Cornelius, Oregon got a call about an ice cream truck that was driving into oncoming traffic. The van had hit the curb twice – a standard indication of drunk driving. The police located the van and booked the driver for DUI.

The legal limit for alcohol while driving in Oregon is .08%. However, for commercial drivers (bus, truck and taxi drivers, and also ice cream van drivers) the limit is .04%. The reasons for this might not be obvious, but they are nonetheless compelling. Some commercial drivers are handling dangerous cargo, and are driving large vehicles which require special skills and care to drive. Others are entrusted with the lives of passengers, including children.

The impaired ice cream vendor was driving in the vicinity of children; the fact that he couldn’t keep from hitting the curb showed how dangerous he was to the kids around him.

Oregon DUI laws acknowledge the greater responsibility of commercial drivers. A CDL holder endures a year’s suspension for a first DUI, with no opportunity for diversion, such as an ignition interlock (car breathalyzer), which would allow driving as long as the operator is sober. For a second conviction, the suspension is for life, with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years.

Oregon’s anti-DUI efforts, in particular their ignition interlock laws, have helped bring down traffic fatality numbers for the state. Getting particularly tough on commercial drivers is an important part of those efforts, especially when driving impaired endangers our most vulnerable citizens.